The Time Traveller begins sleeping indoors with the Eloi because he, too, has become afraid of the Morlocks. Even so, he understands that he can only retrieve the time machine by descending into the well and learning what there is to be learned. Trying to steel his nerves, he walks farther and farther into the country and he sees in the distance a large green structure that seems made of porcelain. It is different enough in shape and size to suggest that it has a different use than any other structure he has seen.
The Time Traveller finally understands the danger of the Morlocks and is allowing his fear to keep him safe, though he knows he will have to confront it eventually. The porcelain building, as it is something new, piques the Time Traveller’s curiosity, since he needs to amass knowledge in order to get the time machine back.
The next morning, the Time Traveller resolves to descend into one of the wells. Weena runs after him, and when he leaves her at the mouth of the well she is agonized and frightened. Nonetheless, he climbs down quickly into the darkness and finds a chamber built into the wall that he enters in order to rest his arms.
The Time Traveller is now confronting his fear of the Morlocks in order to find information about them that might help him retrieve the time machine. This is another example of the risks required for the pursuit of knowledge and for the advancement of science and culture.
The Time Traveller is awakened by the feeling of something touching his face, and he quickly strikes a match to be able to see what it is—there are three Morlocks who immediately flee the light of the match. The Time Traveller notices that they are likely afraid of the light, as their eyes have probably not evolved to meet it comfortably. Feeling his way into another room, the Time Traveller notices the sounds of machines getting louder. When he strikes a match he sees large machines and Morlocks flocking around them. The Time Traveller also smells blood; when he sees that the Morlocks are eating a corpse, he realizes that they’re carnivorous.
This is the Time Traveller’s first real glimpse into the Morlocks’ life, which is, importantly, also the future of the British working class. It’s not pleasant—they live underground in factories that smell like blood, and they’re scared of the light. This crystallizes the differences between the idyllic lives of the Eloi and the difficult lives of the Morlocks, and it also foreshadows the main source of the Eloi’s fear.
His match goes out, and the Time Traveller suddenly realizes he only has a few matches left, which are his only weapon against the Morlocks. In the darkness something touches his face and picks at his clothing. When the Time Traveller shouts it goes away and then comes back more intensely. It’s clear that multiple Morlocks are clutching at him. He lights a match and escapes through its light, needing to strike all of his remaining matches to reach the well shaft without the Morlocks catching him. He climbs to safety, and Weena is waiting for him at the surface.
The matches, which were initially simply a tool of discovery (illuminating the subterranean world so that he could learn about the Morlocks), are now a weapon against the Morlocks. This is another example of the duality of technology—it can be used simply for discovery and advancement, but it can also do harm. That technology is only as good as the people using it can be seen as one of the morals of this book.